Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm Stuck in Chennai. No, really.

Sadly, this update is not as fun!!! I was supposed to fly out of Chennai at 5:30 this morning, so I got to the airport at 2:30 in order to give myself plenty of time. Checked in smoothly. When I reached the immigration desk, however, things went awry. I was asked for my 'Letter of Registration.' I did not know what that meant--I said, "I had to submit that to obtain the education visa. I have completed the three-week program studying yoga here in Chennai and now I am on my way out." He sent me to another officer. "Letter of Registration, please." Um....same thing. Sent me to another corner to sit and wait for more help. I'm thinking, "I don't know why they'd need the Letter of Registration at the KYM but if they let me onto a computer, I can just print that out for them." Oh, boy. Little did I know it was way more complicated than that! A lady came over and explained to me that I need a Letter of Registration from the Indian Embassy, and that I was told upon entering the country that I needed to do that.

Flashback: I've been on a plane for 24 hours, stood in an immigration line for 1 hour, and have finally reached the immigration desk to enter Chennai. She asks me for my letter of registration--I tell her that I submitted that in order to obtain the visa and I don't have it printed out. (Again, I'm thinking she means from the school.) After some more heavily accented English, and me continuously saying, "I'm sorry? Can you repeat that??" she waved her eyes at me and let me pass. All this time, I thought she was scolding me for not presenting a printout from the school....

Flashforward: In tiny tiny little cursive letters on my passport, there's something written about a registration letter. I explain to the lady at the Chennai airport this morning that I had no idea what she was talking about--that I was only here for 3 weeks and have no plans on coming back, that my husband is on his way to London to meet me there. She says "Okay, hold on" and walks away. She comes back to tell me that she has spoken with her supervisor and that this is a formality they cannot waive, that I cannot fly, I must go back into the city, and in the morning (Saturday morning) go to the Immigration Office with a printout of my letter of registration from the KYM in order to get a letter of registration from the Immigration Office. She reassures me that they are open today and that it will be no big deal.

So, I call my driver who turns around to come retrieve me from the airport and get dropped off at my hotel again. I call the KYM to explain the situation and they, too, tell me that this will be easy and not to worry. Great, I think. I book a flight for the next day--it's a little detour but no big deal really. So when 9:40 comes around, Deva picks me up and we go to the immigration office. The doors are open and there's no line--I think, "Awesome. I'll be first and get this done right away." The inner doors are locked and some man comes in and says, "They're not here today. It's a holiday." "It's a holiday. Come back Monday."

I called the US Consulate and spoke to a nice woman named Michelle who regretted to tell me that there was nothing they could do--that I just have to wait til Monday.

Meanwhile, Brian has checked in and can no longer cancel his flight, so he's on his way to London.

I really needed a laugh, so Deva and I went to the mall and saw Zookeeper which was exactly the perfect thing. We got some ice cream and did a little shopping. I went for a swim and did a nice yoga practice. Tomorrow we are going to the Chennai zoo with Deva's family.

There's nothing to be done but wait now. I could use any prayers/positive energies/crossed fingers/well wishes for all to go according to plan Monday morning. I am set to fly out early Tuesday for London and then right to Barcelona. Hopefully I'll have a glass of Sangria in my hand by 8:30 PM Tuesday night.

I am still trying to find the lesson in all this--for right now, I'm just trying to reframe it to think that somehow, it happened for the best. It reminds me of a story that Meneka Desikachar told us in Yoga Philosophy class...

There was a King in India who was meeting with a holy man. The king was slicing some fruit and cut his hand. The holy man said, "Good!" The king replied, "How can you say good? I cut my hand! I am bleeding!" and sent the holy man to jail, to which the holy man replied, "Good!" The King left confused and incredulous at the holy man's response. During this time, there were roving tribes looking for human sacrifices. They came across the King, captured him for their human sacrifice, but let him go when they saw the cut on his hand as they need an unblemished specimen to please the Gods. The King, realizing what had happened, went to the jail and released the Holy man. The King said to him, though, before he let him go, "I understand why you said 'good' now when I cut my hand, but why did you say 'good' when I sent you to jail?" The Holy man, of course, replied, "I am not cut! They would have sacrificed me!"

So I am choosing to think that this happened for the best, somehow. At the very least, it makes me feel better and ends my pity party. And perhaps I dodged some bullet somewhere, somehow. Either way, I'm making the best of this situation and trying to enjoy these last bonus days here in Chennai.



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